Thanksgiving Day presents us with the perfect opportunity to look clearly at all that God has done for us.  It is so easy in life to focus in on all the struggles we face and, as a result, to get down, depressed, frustrated and even angry at times.  What’s far more challenging is to look beyond the crosses and burdens we face each day to see the abundance of grace and mercy given to us by our Lord.  Unless we see that mercy and grace, we will struggle greatly with authentic gratitude.  Remember: Thanksgiving is not about a day—but about a season – a season of gratitude.

Not a Day but a Season: A Thanksgiving Reflection                                                                   
by Deacon Ray Duplechain

Not a day but a Season ….
With fall comes change…. Our culture pushes us to hurry, get it done, now! For our spiritual integrity, we do well to take a longer view beyond the present moment, to look out into the future, beyond today, this week, this year …. Thanksgiving is not about a day but about a season …. season of gratitude.

Gratitude is of the Heart…. It can only grow from there, and when it blooms it is expressed in each of us as Joy! Beyond nice thoughts and pithy words is the struggle that is our daily manner of living. Life can be messy, but it is also manageable. Few of us escape the messiness of our current culture and the challenges we face in our careers and families. Life inevitably proves to be difficult, but it does not have to be burdensome. The challenge of the Christian life is to know who we are and to whom we belong. As daughters and sons of God, through grace, we possess all that is needed to nurture gratitude in our lives.

To Remember and to recall …. We began the season of gratitude on the first two days of November with the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls. To remember those who have gone before us in the faith and in our families. We are who we are as a result of those who formed and molded our lives. So the first fruit of gratitude is to remember those people who positively influenced our lives and nurtured us. The goal is to pass along wisdom, knowledge and understanding to those who surround us: parents, siblings, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and co-workers. We are called to praise God for the wonderful work of our lives; he sends us to fill the lives of other people with good things.

Joy, Joy, heartfelt Joy! …. Thanksgiving begins with a gaze upon gratitude. In our (community) many suffer from an inability to be grateful, they suffer homelessness, malnutrition, lack of basic healthcare, racism, fear of deportation, loss of affection, broken relationships. The list is long. But for the grace of God, any one of us could find ourselves in a seemingly hopeless situation. Hope nurtures gratitude which is rooted in the heart and feeds the soul. Gratitude always stands ready to be embraced. It beckons us to turn a cheek to the hurts of the world; it brings light to the darkness in any situation, and leads us to thanksgiving. Gratitude helps to protect our soul from doubt and fear. With gratitude the soul rejoices and experiences the gift of Joy – heartfelt Joy.

For the fruits of his creation ….   Thanks be to God, for he alone created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies our lives. Finally, the challenge for each of us is this: Gratitude is not quaint thought, or a nostalgic feeling. Gratitude is a commitment to accept God’s gift of grace, to praise him, and to use the gift of grace to give ourselves away to others. The key to a happy and holy thanksgiving is to recognize that it is in giving that we receive. A gift that is freely given is a gift well received.

May God’s abundant blessings accompany us in the coming days as we remember and recall with gratitude in our heartsall that he has done for us. May we respond to his grace with heartfelt joy so that our countenance will be for all an encounter with holiness, mercy, compassion, and love. Even if we eat too much, there is still plenty of room for lots of gratitude and joy!

Happy Thanksgiving!